UFC 164 ‘Henderson vs Pettis 2’ Preliminary Breakdown

August 30, 2013

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UFC 164 ‘Henderson vs Pettis 2’ Preliminary Breakdown



“UFC 164” airs live on PPV, Saturday, August 31.  Preliminaries will be broadcast on Facebook starting at 6:30 PM (EST).  Coverage will continue on Sportsnet 360, with televised preliminaries beginning at 8 PM (EST) and the main card airing at 10 PM (EST).

Xenophiles rejoice!  Saturday’s preliminary card is rich with international flavour.  Making the trip to Brew Town are representatives from Sweden (Magnus Cedenblad), Australia (Soa Palelei), Ukraine (Nikita Krylov), South Korea (Kyung Ho Kang and Hyun Gyu Lim), Germany (Pascal Krauss) and (a shocker, I know) Brazil (Gleison Tibau).  Any one of these men could bolster cards in their respective countries, a sign that the UFC’s global expansion is in good hands.

*****

Jared Hamman (2-4 UFC, 13-5) has a great chance of beating Magnus Cedenblad (0-1 UFC, 10-4).  If only his body would cooperate.  In his last two fights, his Hamman’s chin (he was blitzed by Costa Philippou) and leg (strained ligaments led to his downfall against Michael Kuiper) have betrayed him.  He’s on the fringes of the division at the moment and Cedenblad isn’t going to make it easy for him to hang on.  Mobility will be at a premium as Cedenblad will be searching for every opportunity to bring him down and work his lethal submission game.

“Jycken” (Swedish for “pooch”) has a huge following in his native country, because of both his skills and a popular blog he maintains.  He might become bigger than ABBA (okay, not that big) if he can join David Bielkheden, Per Eklund and Alexander Gustafsson on the short list of Stockholmers with a UFC win on their resume.

*****

Depending on your perspective, matching Ryan Couture (0-1 UFC, 6-2) up with Ross Pearson was either a fantastic opportunity for a young fighter to leap up the standings or punishment for Dana White’s ongoing feud with Couture’s father.  The result was as clear as day.  Against Pearson, a superb striker whose takedown defence was good enough to slow down Couture’s wrestling expertise, Couture didn’t have any avenue of success and his TKO loss in the second round was only a matter of time.  At UFC 164, he faces Al Iaquinta (0-1 UFC, 5-2-1), a fighter who presents similar problems but who is much closer to Couture in experience level.  Perhaps all is forgiven.

*****

Kyung Ho Kang (0-0 [1 NC] UFC, 11-6 [1 NC]) and Hyun Gyu Lim (1-0 UFC, 11-3-1) are both Koreans who have been tearing it up on the international circuit, but that’s where the similarities end.

Kang is the grinder, a beast in the clinch who uses an array of trips and throws to take the fight where he wants it to go.  He shows great patience from top control, rarely throwing anything just for the sake of doing it.  Ideally he’d like to grapple, though he has shown that he is not afraid to stand.  However, a lack of technique makes this option considerably less desirable.  This fight is Kang’s second chance to make a first impression after a narrow split decision loss to Alex Caceres was overturned due to Caceres failing a drug test.

At 5’9”, Kang is an enormous bantamweight.  In contrast, the tallest 135ers are Johnny Bedford at 5’10” and George Roop at 6’1”.  Dominick Cruz and Renan Barão are 5’8” and 5’7” respectively.  The shortest bantamweights are around 5’3”.  Kang’s opponent, Chico Camus (1-1 UFC, 12-4), is 5’6”.  Taking into account Kang’s physical advantages and how well his game is suited to capitalizing on them, this has to be considered a nightmare match-up for Camus.

Lim on the other hand is a banger, one of the best boxers in the South Korean MMA scene.  He trains with Chan Sung Jung at Korean Top Team and shares his teammate’s go-for-broke style.  Back in March, Lim made the most of his debut, flattening Marcelo Guimaraes with a knee right to the chin.  He’s in tough against Pascal Krauss (2-1 UFC, 11-1), a top European prospect who mixes solid jiu-jitsu with rangy kickboxing.

*****

It’s a shame that Jamie Varner (3-2 UFC, 21-7-1) and Gleison Tibau (12-7 UFC, 26-9) aren’t on the main card.  There is certainly something to be said about given the headlining spot on the preliminary card.  It means that the UFC trusts you to put on a show that might garner a few extra thousand PPV buys.

Tibau in particular deserves better.  This will mark his twentieth appearance in the UFC; a feat matched only by a select few including Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Matt Hughes.  I’m not saying that Tibau is anywhere near the prestige of those legends, but a PPV slot is the least they could do for him.  That’s not even mentioning Varner, who was one of the stars that helped build the WEC brand.  I’d much rather watch this than a potentially plodding battle between Ben Rothwell and Brandon Vera.

Two to watch:

Heavyweight Bout: Soa Palelei (0-1 UFC, 18-3) v. Nikita Krylov (0-0 UFC, 15-2)

Two things immediately leap out at you when you see heavyweight prospect Nikita Krylov: his shiny run of first round finishes (twelve straight to begin his career) and his even shinier shorts.  It remains to be seen whether the commission will allow him to pack the potentially blinding attire on his first visit to the states.

Krylov is a ground fighter with raw striking ability.  There’s no denying his power, he just requires refinement.  He’s not a massive heavyweight by any measure.  In all likelihood, a drop to 205 is in his future.

On a personal note, I didn’t get into mixed martial arts until about mid-2000 and Soa Palelei vs. Eddie Sanchez was the first fight I remember watching.  The announcers hyped up Palelei, but it was Sanchez who outlasted “The Hulk” en route to a third round finish.  Hardly the stuff of legends; still, it just goes to show that you never know what moment will create a new MMA fanatic.

Flyweight Bout: Louis Gaudinot (1-1 UFC, 6-2) v. Tim Elliott (1-1 UFC, 9-3-1)

This one seems almost too obvious, doesn’t it?  Two prototypical jitterbug flyweights who banked “Fight of the Night” awards in their last appearances.  If the 125 pound division ever rises to prominence, we’ll remember how fighters like Gaudinot and Elliott furthered the cause.

Gaudinot is easy to spot.  That’s how it is when you’re rocking green hair and a disturbing resemblance to Diego Sanchez.  It was fascinating seeing Gaudinot compete on TUF 14.  He was already a world ranked flyweight…a division that most people didn’t even know existed.  Luckily, due to the potential of fighters like himself, John Dodson and Demetrious Johnson, the decision was made to include the little guys.  Gaudinot’s time to shine came against John Lineker, currently a consensus top ten flyweight, who he defeated with a triangle choke.  After a long layoff due to injury, “Goodnight” has to be starving to reclaim his lost momentum.

Hair dye isn’t the only way to stand out.  Beating an all-time great works pretty well too.  Elliott did just that two years ago, knocking Jens Pulver out cold.  What he lacks in speed and crispness, he more than makes up for with a fan friendly style that includes lots of uppercuts and looping punches.  His seven finishes in nine fights gives him a high finishing rate in a division known for back and forth contests that usually go the distance.  This is a key win if Elliott aims to move from crowd pleaser to contender.

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